Kelsey bill to void union agreements with cities draws opposition

Union officials in Memphis and City Council members in Chattanooga assailed state Sen. Brian Kelsey’s proposed legislation to dissolve union agreements with city workers, reports the Commercial Appeal.

At a news conference Thursday, Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson introduced a proposed resolution asking his fellow council members to formally denounce state Senate Bill 123, drafted by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown. Anderson says that, among other things, the legislation could negatively affect up to 3,000 workers in Chattanooga alone.

On Tuesday, a Memphis City Council committee will consider a similar resolution.

The Senate bill seeks to prevent cities and metropolitan governments in Tennessee from recognizing or entering agreements with employee unions and rendering any “agreement, contract, understanding, or practice, written or oral, implied or expressed” between a city and a union “illegal, void and of no legal effect.”

Kelsey said Thursday he is only trying to help cities.

“If Tennessee wants to truly be a right-to-work state, we are going to have to apply those principles all the way down to the local level,” Kelsey said. “This bill will help cities to control their budget issues by giving them the ability to negotiate directly with employees.”

Mike Williams, president of the Memphis Police Association, said the state’s unions have been working to defeat the bill, which he said will set back the relationship between unions and local municipalities to an era before the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike.

Note: See also a Times-Free Press story, HERE.